The Official Becoming Fools Movie Trailer

Drum roll, please …. After much anticipation, we are thrilled to release the official Becoming Fools Movie Trailer.

We’re not yet finished with the film, but we’re close. It’s in the final phase of post-production: coloring, music, mixing, animation, art, and credits.

After a year of pre-production and research, 6 months of production and 6 months of editing and post-production, we are rounding the turn towards the finish line. My heart has swung through all emotions imaginable over the course of this journey – from loving the story, to absolutely hating it, to loving it again.

The production phase is my favorite. It is a time when we are out in the world together, collaborating, capturing a story and experiencing the richness of community. It’s hard work, but somehow we don’t notice because we are together. You should hear the laughter at 2 AM when we’re logging footage, after a 12 hour shoot in a dirty environment … and the water is off, so you can’t take a shower before bed. It is a true joy!

Then there is the flip side. If production is a joy because of community, then editing is the Alcatraz prison of loneliness. To be honest, I often wrestle with depression while editing a film. It is a long period of isolation in the “editing cave” with only small spurts of community when we evaluate the film. And because those small doses of community are focused on critically evaluating the film, it usually results in me having to spend more time editing in isolation. Don’t get me wrong. I greatly value constructive criticism during the process and want our films to be the best they can be! It just begins to take its toll after 6 months of 16 hour work days. Needless to say, I am very glad that I can see the light at the end of the editing tunnel!

After all this work, the film is slightly different than we originally imagined. But, this is normal because you never have control over all the production elements in a documentary. In this case, we were thrown some pretty big wild cards during production. I compared it to riding a wild bull. We just held on tight, kept the cameras rolling, and prayed we were capturing what we needed to tell a great story. Thankfully, we captured some great stuff!

During a recent Athentikos meeting, we engaged in a deep and honest discussion about the film. We asked some  tough questions ….

Is this a compelling story?

Does this film achieve what we set out to do?

Is the story depicted in the final edit the same story we passionately felt called to produce in the beginning?

It was unanimous. Even though the story is different than we initially imagined, it compellingly accomplishes the goal we set out to achieve. This is the story God called us to tell.

It’s full of warm characters, beautiful tension and redemption that we couldn’t have written better if we wrote it as a narrative. It still makes me cry … and I have seen it thousands of times over the course of editing! So, either I am completely off my rocker, or this story truly connects to the heart.

As we work diligently to wrap up the final details in this project, I have mixed emotions. I’ve committed 2 years of my life to developing, filming and editing this story. I’ve grown to love these street youth as dear friends. Their delicate charm has captured my heart! I would love for this film to raise awareness and bring needed resources to this issue! But, I have no idea what will become of it all.

We raised enough funding to get through production. But we still lack the financial resources to release the film. Unfortunately, we can’t subsidize this next phase with our sweat equity. Unless we receive additional funding, we will be forced to put the film on hold. We truly believe this story has the potential to make a difference in the lives of street youth around the world. But we need your help … will you consider giving a donation?

As of right now, we only have one official film screening planned. Let’s make it count!

Becoming Fools will screen at the Omaha Film Festival on Sunday March 10 at 12:15 PM.

Gather your friends and meet us there! If you are too far away to attend, please help us make noise so we can try to fill the theater. Use every means necessary to tell people about this opportunity to see the film: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, phone calls, post cards, smoke signal … and especially talking face to face!

Please watch the trailer and share it. Give a donation if you can. Work with us to help bring the film to your city. Let’s become fools together and make a difference!

Give a tax-deductible donation to help us release the film.

Why do we keep marching forward in something that seems so foolish?

We are fools.

Why do we keep marching forward in something that seems so foolish?

Seriously, sometimes I wonder if I am just stubborn or stupid. Either way, we are foolish for marching forward. Today, I finally finished editing Becoming Fools … and …  we received our first response back from a film festival in which we submitted the film. It went like this:

“I’m sorry to inform you that your project was not selected … Best of luck with your future projects.”

Not the most encouraging news on this milestone of production …

Now, let me set the stage for this message. I’ve been working on the Becoming Fools documentary for two years; full time for the last year and a half. And really … Full time is an understatement. It’s more like 16 hours a day, 6 days a week. I don’t share this for sympathy. I share it to reinforce the fact that I am truly, without a doubt … foolish.

From the very beginning, every step of this journey has been foolish. It’s been a marathon of impossible hurdles strung together to taunt our souls to give up:

▪    The protagonist of the story died while we were in pre-production.
▪    Amelia and I lost our day jobs within 3 weeks of each other & we were left without secure income.
▪    Our Kickstarter fundraiser failed to raise the funds we needed to produce the film.
▪    Funds were not raised to pay for the live theatrical event which is documented in the film.
▪    The lead character of the live theatrical event quit and went back to the streets.
▪    485 hours of footage needed to be translated before we could edit it down to feature length
▪    The edit took 5 months of working 16 hours a day, six days a week.
▪    We missed the opportunity to enter several large film festivals for the season.
▪    Technical difficulties made finalizing the edit very difficult.
▪    Our 1st Film Festival notice was negative.
▪    We don’t have any funds to release the film.

… And yet we continue …. WHY?

There are days in which I wonder if I have wasted the last few years of my life investing into this foolish endeavor. Somedays it stings the very core of my being and I feel like a total failure.

But then I take a deep breath and remember why we started this project: it is a story that needs to be shared so that it may inspire.

What is failure? What is foolish? Italo could be considered both. He lived his life according to the passion that God gave him. He risked his life in dangerous city streets to care for kids who were not likely to change. In fact, most of the kids he cared for still wrestle with some sort of addiction and never totally left the streets. But Italo didn’t die in the streets where he risked his life. And … His passion was reborn into not just one person, but an entire community of fools that believe they can make a difference together.

Was Italo a fool? Yes. Was he a failure? Absolutely not.

Like Italo, we continue because we ARE fools living life according to the passion God has given us, and with that established, there is no way we can fail. So we keep marching forward …

 

Will you consider giving a tax-deductible donation to help us finish this story & make a difference in the lives of homeless youth?

Give a tax-deductible donation.

 

Tired, Loco, Busy…

By: Matt Eldredge

In preparing for my return trip to Guatemala to help on production for Becoming Fools, I heard a lot of keywords of what to expect like tired, loco, busy, long, tired, hectic, tired, etc…I tried to plan ahead with which audio adapters to bring and just be mentally ready for the hard work and long hours ahead. After a minor scare of not finding my bag right away, Bobby and Tyler showed up at the airport and we all made our way cleanly through security and customs with all the gear, thank God.  I had flown out a little earlier and gone through Dallas while they flew through Miami, and we both landed in Guatemala City at right about the same time, but an hour late, go figure.

We were a little too late to make it to our first rehearsal to see what all the kids had been working on, so opted for some KFC and settling in at Joel’s.  Evidently, we had missed quite an eventful rehearsal as one of the main characters in the Voz De Las Calles production, Mefi, had left the cast after missing several rehearsals and then showing up under the influence and fighting with the other cast and crew. We began to feel some uncertainty as to how well this whole event was going to come off but pressed on and hoped for the best as we continued planning.

The day before Voz De Las Calles, our whole team held a morning production meeting with a local film producer named Rafa to help us prepare and film the event. It was a great meeting from a production side as we got everything lined up and we were encouraged by everyone offering their resources and talents to pull this thing off well.

At the Friday night rehearsal, the eve of the performance, we were hopeful to have the cast of kids finally get through the entire performance at the rehearsal theater, but it didn’t exactly turn out that way. Believe it or not, it’s actually quite a challenge to get all of these different performers, volunteers, let alone kids living out on the streets, together at the same time for hours enough to rehearse a large production all the way through. But instead, we worked on several scenes and saw a lot of the kids displaying the new talents they had been working on for months, and then the director gathered everyone together and all sat down on the stage in a big circle. What happened next was even better than finishing a rehearsal as they began to share their hearts, their struggles and accomplishments thus far, their purpose for pressing ahead, and then they gave thanks to God and lifted each other and this special performance up to Him in prayer. I could just feel God stirring in hearts and smiling down on this special group.

Saturday, performance day, we headed to the theater to set up and get establishing shots. As we tried to prepare in this beautiful venue I was just hopeful that the kids would make it through the performance all right. It was a real treat to see all the actors and crew and musicians and photographers buzzing around backstage. So many people there giving their time and talent to this project. It was also really fun watching the kids get transformed into all the different clown makeup. The energy for the performance was really building and then we were all surprised by who showed up next…Mefi!

Fortunately Scott and I got to rush over and capture a humbled Mefi return to apologize and accept the consequences of his actions. He knew that he had messed up but still just wanted to be a part of the play in any way that he could. He then had a really hard conversation with the director, accepted that he would not get to perform his original part, but again asked humbly that he could just be a part of it and said that he didn’t want to give up on his dreams and all the hard work that he, and his friends, had put into this performance, he wanted to be here for himself and for them and was willing to say he was sorry for his actions. And then he was allowed to get his part back!! What an inspirational picture of God’s grace and forgiveness and the truth that he always gives second chances and open arms!

During the play Scott and I stayed backstage to capture all the energy and action. We did get to see a lot from the side stage and also quite a lot of frantic running around, warm up routines, jitters, and a girl struggling to get her stilts on right, it was a little nerve racking! But the most fun part was hearing all the laughter and applause coming from the audience! The performance went really great, and ended in a climactic joyous celebration, amazing! I’m sure that you can’t wait to see it… 😉

Now, this was only 2 days into our production trip! I was continuously inspired in so many ways…

During our trip to Lake Atitlan I was inspired by the strength of a young man Raul, who had to watch his friend and mentor, Italo drown right in front of him, and who was able to share that pain and tell his story at that very lake spot.  During one of our many trips into the city streets I was inspired by a business owner who shared the use of his building, roof, and even his security guards to allow us to film and move about getting shots we wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise.

The adventure didn’t come without a little struggle, being in a foreign land and realizing how needy we were for help with direction, translation, transportation, and with our limited resources. So I was especially inspired by the Voncannons who graciously escorted us all around the city to profound areas of ministry, by their own hearts to sacrifice and pour out to very difficult places, meeting people right where they are: hungry, addicted, broken, hurting on the street, and sharing the love of Christ with them. Oh and for a little thing like giving us their van for a couple of days so we could actually get around and film, amazing!

Other sources of inspiration: our incredible team! Scott our fearless leader and master of the BRPs, Amelia getting amazing stills and our underwater filmmaking champion, Bobby making us all look good and driving like a boss, Tyler Balboa keeping the momentum alive with the eye of the tiger, Ericha coordinating and taking care of business, Darlene with the creative vision and fresh dance moves, plus all the help from Joel, Jonathan, Josue, Dave, Mono, of course Hubert, helping us conquer Pacaya, Nathalie, Brandon- you guys are the best! And pretty much every day seeing all of God’s beauty, Lake Atitlan, hiking Panajachel past a 75′ high waterfall, lightning storms, amazing sunsets, and on top of a freaking live volcano walking over liquid hot magma!

We had so many more adventures, trials, and triumphs, and the theme set here would continue throughout the entire trip…things didn’t always (ever?) go quite as we planned, but God was always faithful to our efforts and He allowed us to see and capture more than we could have even planned for in any production timeline. I was inspired in many other unexpected ways, even in a coffee shop in Panajachel called Crossroads. I got to see God orchestrate events and connect us together in unexpected ways to tell His story of Grace. We may seem limited, but He has no limits, for His purpose and glory, and I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds!

The Heart Behind the Production

The Heart Behind the Production

Going Back

Have you ever been to a place (vacation destination, location for missions, etc) that you haven’t been too in a while where upon arrival it’s all familiar but either the purpose or situation dictates a totally different experience? If so, then I know how you feel! For me, going back to Guatemala to capture footage for our second film was so different than that of Reparando! The places were the same and even many faces were familiar but the experience was definitely unique.

From a pure production stand point, filming Becoming Fools was different than Reparando for many reasons. Probably the most obvious was for  Reparando we were telling a story that already happened, whereas Becoming Fools was a film we captured as a story was unfolding right before us. So if trying to plan production days and events wasn’t hard enough in a foreign country for a story that we could sort of dictate, it was even more difficult to plan for a story we could not foresee happening.

The Heart Behind the ProductionHowever from a personal standpoint having the opportunity to film another story in Guatemala allowed me to connect more to the people that were in front of the lens. Not to say during production of Reparando we didn’t have those opportunities but it being my first time in a Latin American country, knowing only “hola” and “adios” (obviously my two years of Spanish in high school 20 years ago didn’t stick) and filming with a crew I had never worked with it goes without saying that I was a little preoccupied with other things to be developing relationships.

I also think that now that I have a 4 year old daughter and a 1 year old son that I can relate with the production, being that of us filming kids living on the streets. This had a huge impact on me!

Seeing the Heart First Hand

One occurrence I remember vividly was the night we went to observe kids selling goods on the streets. Tyler, Matt, Josue, Ericha and myself went to local fast food establishments where kids typically sell. At one establishment we ran into a 9 year old girl named Marta. Her mannerisms, smile and attitude were so infectious that it was impossible to not pay attention to her every move and word (even though it was in an unfamiliar language). I couldn’t help thinking of my own daughter and how I would feel if she had to be on the streets late at night selling goods, it was heartbreaking. At the same time, she amazed me how smart and mature she was for her age.  Marta definitely captured my heart. I couldn’t help buying a few hair clips that she was selling for my own daughter.

The Heart Behind the Production

The 16 days I was there were very adventurous! I could talk about the zip lining near Lake Antìtlan, shooting while walking through some of the most dangerous streets in Guatemala City (with armed guards of course!), climbing and shooting on top of an active volcano and many more exciting moments such as those. However, I believe what we do changes peoples hearts. I like to make sure we focus on that aspect because as much as we impact the hearts of others, as a team, our hearts are impacted as well.

The Heart Behind the Production

Everything works better together

Athentikos, FreedomGuatemala, PorUnaCausa and Weyaverde joined forces at Monkibú.  The event was multi-purpose, directed at benefiting all organizations involved, in addition to raising awareness about recycling and the issue of children living in the street.  Monkibú, a fun center for kids, hosted an event to teach kids about recycling.

Toy Story characters Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jessie showed up at the event to teach the children the importance of recycling.  They discussed what materials could be recycled and the proper way to recycle these materials in addition how to conserve energy.  Buzz, Woody and Jessie taught the kids the 3 R’s…reducir, reusar, reciclar (reduce, reuse, recycle).

As part of the event, all participating organizations invited everyone to bring their recyclable items to a recently installed recycle bin at Monkibú.  Weyaverde, a recycling center installed this bin and will pick up all donated materials and transport them to a recycling center.  Monkibú is now an established “punto verde” (recycling center) and will continue accepting recycling donations, however all proceeds collected from today’s event and through June 15th will be donated to MOJOCA – Movimiento de jóvenes de la calle.  MOJOCA is an organization in Guatemala City working in the streets with children of the streets.  Many of the children involved in Voz de las Calles and Becoming Fools are children that participate in MOJOCA’s programs.  Their work features 5 stages in which children from the streets attend school, participate in vocational training, work for an income, gain independence and reinsert themselves into society.  Benefits from Voz de las Calles and Becoming Fools will go to continue this vocational training at MOJOCA.

Beauty is …

We were checking out at the grocery store the other day, and my son Micah said, “Hey dad, there’s a picture of Guatemala.”

I turned around and noticed he was pointing at this magazine. I had to hide my tears because his observation struck a chord in my soul. He was talking about the country of his birth. This is one of the reasons we invest so much or ourselves into Athentikos.


Once we got to the car, I explained that the picture was not of Guatemala, but of a different country called Syria. That didn’t really matter to him. Micah was certain of the photo’s location. He described in detail the things which made the photo “Guatemalan”.

He said, “The buildings are old, gray, and broken. The streets are broken and dirty …”

I almost chimed in to correct him and reinforce the reality that this photo was NOT Guatemala. But, I caught myself in time and just listened to him explain.

“It is kind of scary …”, he continued.

Wow! Was this how my son really saw his birth country – old, broken, and scary? What a contrast! I see a beautiful country with flowers, volcanoes, lakes, historical architecture, intoxicating color, and some of the warmest, most charming people I have ever met. However, when I stopped to look at the photo through the eyes of a six year old, suddenly Guatemala I could see the similarities. They are both war torn, yearning for hope and a better future.

I told Micah I could see the similarities he mentioned, but this photo was not taken in Guatemala. I explained the fact that war had damaged both these countries, but they were still beautiful; and both had incredible people are working hard to make their countries better. I reminded him of all the beautiful things in Guatemala and promised to take him there someday to explore its wonder with him.

He is very excited about climbing a volcano together someday.

Admittedly, so am I.

Questioning Reality

I knew this day would eventually come. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it. But I could never wrap my brain around why. Perhaps I was just scared. But today was the day.

Micah came home from school today and explained that kids at school said he was adopted and had another mother. He asked us if that was true.

We have always told our sons they were born in Guatemala and celebrated their heritage. But for the past couple years, they thought everyone was born there. We repeatedly explained that we weren’t born in Guatemala, but it never sunk in. According to Micah, “even Jesus and Santa Claus were born in Guatemala”. That was his perceived reality … at least until today when he was told by his peers that he was different.

My first reaction was anger and sorrow. I was angry that these kids might have told Micah this information to be mean to him. I was sad that that they might have hurt his feelings because they didn’t know the truth about adoption and his story. And of course, there was the fear that perhaps somehow my son would view us as people other than his parents who loved him. We planned to have this conversation with our sons eventually, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. At least we had read a lot of books that prepared us for the question. I kept my thoughts and feelings to myself as we ate dinner.

After dinner Amelia and I explained to Micah and Elliot in further detail how they came to be our sons. In short, we told them that their birth mother (tummy mamma) loved them very much, but that she could not take care of them. She loved them enough to give them to us so that we could take care of them and become their “forever parents”. We explained how Amelia and I tried to have babies from Amelia’s tummy but couldn’t and that we were very sad. But God had different plans. He gave us the gift of children through Micah and Elliot. And even more, we believe it was God’s plan all along. We told them that adoption is not second best or less special than being with a tummy mamma. God chose to give them to us and we are so very thankful that they are our sons. We were proud of their heritage and story and loved them both so, so, so very much.

We talked for a long time and explained our story in several ways. We even used Kung Fu Panda 2 as an example of adoption. I could see the wheels turning in Micah’s head. His eyes told me that he was contemplating this information. Then, he asked us the name of his tummy Mamma … And suddenly, after years of wondering to myself when it would happen … It was happening …

… and then just as quickly as he asked about his tummy mamma, he began talking about a video game …

Maybe it sunk in. Maybe it didn’t. We gave Micah and Elliot hugs and encouraged them to ask us questions about their story whenever they had them in the future. I am sure there will be more questions. Maybe it will be tomorrow. Maybe it will be next week or next year. But the questions will come, and we will answer them when they do.

For now, I know this: our sons KNOW that we love them and we are one more step further into our story together. It wasn’t a bad day after all.

Clowning Around

We are well underway in the process of ‘Becoming Fools’!

Clowning is a performance art. It’s experiential. It’s theatre. And … it’s cathartic. Clowning can help these kids process their tragic stories and better understand their wounds. Clowning can also empower these kids to begin to communicate their stories non-verbally – in a way that crosses culture and language – so that we the audience can begin to understand their needs and respond. Both the clown and the audience have the opportunity to heal.

Classes are now in full swing every Tuesday and Thursday.  In these training sessions, kids are learning and perfecting a variety of skills included in clowning and in theatrical performance.  After each class the kids are tasked with specific skills and exercises to continue practicing at home.  How fun it has been to watch the kids being creative, being silly, expressing themselves, and improving their skills!!

At times, it may seem that a theatrical performance at such a big scale may be a goal that is unachievable.  But the kids involved in this project are extremely talented.  And these kids are passionate about influencing people around them in a similar way that Italo inspired them.

“My dream is leaving the streets for good and being able to have myself  a small business to have a training shop – workshops with makeup and stuff like that. And help people that are in need like I am need right now,” Byron says.

“That is part of my dream, to become an artist, a great artist like himself.  I like to bring joy to people’s lives, and I like to see people laughing. My purpose is to bring joy and happiness to people, to bring a moment of joy to others, a moment of entertainment, a moment in which they can clear their minds,” Mefi shares.

The kids have been practicing skills like improvisation, vocal coordination and projection, facial expressions and exaggeration, stage directions, dramatization, the art of applying make-up and everything in between.  All the while embracing a stronger understanding of self-confidence.

Throughout the process of preparing for the Becoming Fools Live Event, these kids are given a goal to work towards, something to practice and thus a very tangible way to see their skills and themselves grow.

We have a long road ahead of us, but the kids are enjoying the ride and so are we!!

Walking Forward in Faith

I have used the phrase, “walking forward in faith” a few times recently to describe my current season of life. Its a phrase I have often heard. I might have even used it a few times myself.  But, I don’t think I have ever understood the depth and meaning of those simple words strung together in a sentence like I do today … and … I know someday I will look back on the level of understanding I currently have and say, “You didn’t have a clue”.

For context, here’s an abridged re-cap of the past three months of my life:

1. I lost my job.

2. My wife Amelia lost her job.

3. We decided to produce a new film called Becoming Fools, that focuses on street youth in Guatemala

4. Rather than look for a new job, we have spent all our time developing a Kickstarter campaign to fund the new film

Some people might think we were foolish to embark on this project, given the current variables of our life. Shouldn’t we seek a steady job? Why take this huge risk? Priority number one should be taking care of my family, right? Yes, but Amelia and I truly believe this story can make a difference in the lives of children living on the street. It is an incredible story and will gain a lot of attention when it is completed. It has the potential to ignite a movement.

Being the visionary type, I can see the final product in my mind … the poster, title sequence, story, closing credits and screening tour … I can see all of this and am driven to work hard to make the vision a reality. The walking forward in faith part comes into the equation with the fact that in order to accomplish all of the things I mentioned above, we need funding. Unless we reach our financial goal on Kickstarter by October 5, 2011, we will get nothing. This is another instance where people might call us foolish. We have a significant goal of $150,000. Some have asked,

“Why did you make your goal so high?”

My answer is the same every time: because I have run the numbers over and over, and that is the minimum we need to produce the story.

We didn’t flippantly establish our financial goal. We know it is a lot. And, we know very few projects raise this level of funding on Kickstarter. But, we also know that we are not in control. If God wants us to move forward and produce this film, He will bring the resources necessary to accomplish it. So, to bring this back around to walking forward in faith …

Two weeks into our campaign, we have raised over $20,000. This is a significant amount of funding – more than many Kickstarter campaigns raise. We are extremely thankful for everyone who has generously given. At the same time, with all things being equal, we are behind in the statistical numbers needed to make the campaign successful. It is easy to get discouraged at a time like this when the numbers are against you. But, life is more than a numbers game. They aren’t in control either.

I had an epiphany the other day as I described the current situation. Amelia and I truly ARE walking forward in faith in this Kickstarter campaign … AND … We ARE fools. We’re fools walking in faith with the knowledge that He who has called us to this knows what we do not … and He will carry us through.

We pray that God will move hearts and make this a successful fundraising campaign. We pray that this film will inspire audiences to respond to the needs of street kids around the world. And … we pray that God will give us the ability to continue to walk in faith with Him during this time of the in between.

Please join us in Becoming Fools. Make a pledge and ask others to join you.

 

A Perfect God vs. Imperfect Nation

Story telling in film is difficult – not only because it takes enormous resources to produce, but also because when you are finished, everyone responds differently. Some people adore “the baby”. Others despise it … and some don’t even take the time to watch it. Being a passionate but contemplative man, I sometimes spend too much time mulling over negative responses despite the fact that they may be the extreme minority.

I was recently told that ‘Reparando’ is an Anti-Amercian film. Granted, this opinion is the minority in responses that we have received. But I feel the need to respond to it. Because … I love my country and ultimately …  the film isn’t Anti-American, it’s Pro-Redemption.

Although I worship a perfect God and savior, I live in an imperfect nation.

I have never intended for this film to be of interest solely to an American Christian sub-culture. But in the contrary, I wanted this story to speak of God’s redemption in the midst (and in spite) of human political and philosophical motives. Reparando communicates the fact that:

“the US destabilized Guatemala through CIA operations and that there is a connection to the CIA and the United Fruit Company. In the wake of this destabilization, the Guatemalan government responded  disproportionately to the internal threat causing the country to fall into a 36 year civil war.”

Documented history details the US government’s covert exacerbation of the conflict. If I wanted to make an anti-American film, I would have sensationalized the issue. But I wasn’t making an anti-American film. US involvement in the Guatemalan conflict isn’t a political statement. It is documented history.

‘Reparando’ was born out of the adoption of my sons. I saw injustice and had to respond. For three years, I have given every ounce of my free time and resources to telling this story because I care. As Guatemalans, My children have a history and heritage that is both beautiful and ugly. I want them to know the truth.

I have traveled much of the world and appreciate the freedom that we have in the US … to live, love, learn, communicate, worship and pursue happiness. I also appreciate the lives of soldiers who have died to give us our freedom. I love my country and still well up with tears when I hear the national anthem. But I cannot weave my worship of God so tightly with my country that I deceive myself into believing our nation is perfect. We have a long history of imperfections to match our achievements and we can learn from both. We are a nation built on the beautiful foundation that all men are created equal. With this in mind, I can boldly claim that just as I am not perfect, neither are the leaders of my country. We all make mistakes. And unless we honestly embrace our imperfection, we will never realize the need for a savior.

The theme of the film is “victims connecting to the pain of their past in order to help the next generation”. As a story teller, I believe this concept applies to the United States as well. The truth is that both countries were (and are) intricately involved in the issues in Guatemala. Both countries have made mistakes. In spite of these mistakes, Jesus redeems. Shorty is a victim of a war which involves my country. He could have been destroyed. He could have even been repaired and then focused on himself. He could harbor anger in his heart towards my country. But he didn’t. Despite being a war victim, he lives as Jesus to the community in which he is placed and he embraces me as his brother in Christ so that together we can make a difference. Together, we can help repair the next generation. In the midst of imperfection, hope is rising.